Former law minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday alleged the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, which seeks to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), allows the use of “draconian police powers for political ends”. He also claimed the government’s agenda behind bringing such laws is to “silence opponents”.

In an overhaul of criminal laws, the Centre on Friday introduced in Lok Sabha three bills to replace the IPC, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act, proposing, among other things, repeal of the sedition law and introducing a new provision with a wider definition of the offence.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023; Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill, 2023 to replace the CrPC; and Bharatiya Sakshya (BS) Bill, 2023 that will replace the Indian Evidence Act.

In a tweet, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal said, “Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (2023) (BNS) allows for using draconian police powers for political ends.” “BNS: Allows for police custody from 15 up to 60 or 90 days. New offences for prosecuting persons who threaten the security of state (redefined). Agenda: To silence opponents,” he said.

The BNS Bill provides for several changes in the existing provisions, including that of defamation and attempt to commit suicide, and expands the scope of offences against women pertaining to sexual intercourse by employing “deceitful means”.

Amit Shah has said the changes have been made to provide speedy justice.

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